Preaching Connection: Judgement

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Jeremiah 8:18-9:1

“This hurts me more than it hurts you” our parents assured us as they doled out some form of punishment or another.  Timeouts, groundings, restrictions: our parents wanted to claim the greater pain was theirs in the issuing of the punishments than ours in the receiving of them.  We, none of us, believe this when…

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Jeremiah 18:1-11

The image of a potter at a wheel molding a wet lump of clay into various shapes is both a vivid image and one that most people can picture easily in their minds—it even cuts across multiple cultures seeing as the art of pottery making is quite ancient.   Skilled potters are downright amazing in their…

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Proper 29A: Christ the King Sunday; Damned if You Don’t

When a teacher announces that the material for the day will appear on a test, there is usually a rustle of paper, a snap of pens, and some special attention given to the lesson for that day. The same thing is true of life. If life is merely a languid succession of days and years,…

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Luke 12:49-56

It seems to me that this passage is hitting many of us hard this summer. Denominations of every size, evangelical or mainline, are at crossroads, as synodical and convention decisions will force many of their members to leave the only faith homes that they have ever known. Is this the work of Christ’s fire baptism…

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Hosea 1:2-10

We teach a certain rule-of-thumb to our seminary students.  We talk about it as colleagues in ministry.  And deep down we intuitively know this truth anyway.  We preachers know that it’s at best dicey to use our spouse and children as sermon illustrations, exemplars of behavior good or bad, or just generally as the starting…

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Luke 13:1-9

Comments, Questions, and Observations Why did the bad thing happen? Did they deserve it? This is how the text starts. And just to get it out of the way, Jesus doesn’t answer the why question. When it comes to theodicy, Scripture rarely, if ever, does. Instead, God’s wisdom is to turn our hearts and eyes…

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Psalm 63:1-8

When a psalm is as relatively brief as Psalm 63 and yet you notice that the Lectionary would have you stop reading—and presumably stop preaching—three verses shy of the actual conclusion of the poem, one might be justified in wondering what’s up.  What is in those last few verses?  Why the full stop before this…

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Zephaniah 3:14-20

I used to watch a TV show that was quite compelling and enjoyable but it did have one feature to it that I did not much like: in some episodes the show’s characters would find themselves sunk very deep down into dreadfully complex circumstances.  The episode would devote something like 92% of the time to…

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Luke 1:68-79

Someone once said that visits always bring pleasure because even if the arrival of a certain visitor didn’t make you happy, his departure will!  The comedic pianist Victor Borge also touched on this topic when he once noted that the mythic figure of Santa Claus has the right idea: you should visit people just once…

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Psalm 98

Reading Psalm 98 is like uncorking a well shook-up bottle of champagne.  The cork rockets upward and the bubbly inside the bottle fountains forth in exuberance.  We’ve all seen those locker rooms after a team wins the World Series or the Super Bowl when players spray each other with such bottles—some years ago someone finally…

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Mark 13:24-37

Maybe nearing the end of 2020 it is not at all difficult to bend people’s thoughts to all things apocalyptic.  Most years when the Lectionary reading for the First Sunday in Advent directs us to the Olivet Discourse and Jesus’ words about the end of the world, it can be a stretch to do the…

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Psalm 95

Growing up in a tradition that had once upon a time been founded on Psalm singing only in church, I sang lots of psalms in my boyhood church even long, long after my Reformed tradition had added also hymns to our standard Psalter Hymnal songbook.  Even as a young boy, though, I was struck by…

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Genesis 12:1-4a

The early chapters of Genesis show us the steady downhill slide of humanity beginning with the Fall in Eden, with some terrifying secondary falls along the way—Cain and Abel, the increasing depravity of humans resulting in the massive cleansing of the Flood, the building of Babel resulting in the scattering and confusion of the nations….

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Psalm 98

Reading Psalm 98 is like uncorking a well shook-up bottle of champagne.  The cork rockets upward and the bubbly inside the bottle fountains forth in exuberance.  We’ve all seen those locker rooms after a team wins the World Series or the Super Bowl when players spray each other with such bottles—some years ago someone finally…

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Luke 15:1-3, 11-32

Go ahead, try to be creative.  Mess with this story if you must.  Others have.  Texts that are super-familiar to many people always tempt one to do something different.  “Goodness, people have heard this story SOOOO many times” we think. Thus when it comes to the Parable of the Prodigal Son, folks have tried to…

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Luke 13:1-9

Someday I’d like it explained to me why the Lectionary would assign the final verses of a chapter for the week prior to looking at its first 9 verses.  Nobody reads the Bible backwards like that so it’s not the least bit clear to me why preaching it this way makes any sense, either.  In…

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Psalm 63:1-8

When a psalm is as relatively brief as Psalm 63 and yet you notice that the Lectionary would have you stop reading—and presumably stop preaching—three verses shy of the actual conclusion of the poem, one might be justified in wondering what’s up.  What is in those last few verses?  Why the full stop before this…

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Jeremiah 33:14-16

Advent begins this year in burned out cities littered with dead bodies and in a devastated countryside where the deer and the antelope do not play (Jeremiah 33:4-5 and 10).  After centuries of divine patience with Israel’s blatant covenant breaking, God has finally had it.  This dark book of Jeremiah is God’s word of judgment…

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Psalm 63:1-8

I have always been moved and challenged by Luke’s description of Christ’s decisive turn to the cross in Luke 9:51. “At the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” An older translation put it more graphically; “Jesus set his face to go up to Jerusalem.” I…

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Luke 13:1-9

Someday I’d like it explained to me why the Lectionary would assign the final verses of a chapter for the week prior to looking at its first 9 verses.   Nobody reads the Bible backwards like that so it’s not the least bit clear to me why preaching it this way makes any sense, either.  In…

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